Captain America has seen an unexpected change in tone since its numbering restarted 9 months ago, and then even more so when Steve McNiven finished as regular artist to make way for Alan Davis in issue #6. It is not an unwelcome change, but a surprising one because regular writer, Ed Brubaker, had previously stuck with a relatively dark and realistic tone since he began on the series in 2005. The series now feels very (for lack of a better term) comic-booky. I am fully aware that it is indeed a comic book, but in comparison to the title’s previous feel it is now far more colorful and light, and features more fantastical villains and story premises. The title previously held an almost ultra-realistic tone which will be missed, but the change is certainly a refreshing one.
In issue #9 (part 4 of the “Powerless” arc) we see Cap dealing with the loss of his super-soldier abilities and physique, as seen last issue during his fight with the Serpent Squad over the riot-causing MadBombs. Tony Stark does everything he can to figure out exactly how this happened to Steve and if it can be reversed, even though Tony’s area of expertise is technology, not biology (this bothered me). During the tests, Falcon reports to Steve about recently-recurring villain, Codename Bravo’s, escape from The Raft, also seen last issue. We can obviously expect Bravo to cause some more trouble in issues to come. Meanwhile, Sharon Carter finds herself fighting for her life against the digital consciousness of Machinesmith, who has taken full control of all the gadgets and machinery aboard her Quincarrier. Sharon believes Machinesmith knows the secret to restoring Steve to his former super-soldier glory, but just what will it take for him to talk? The story concludes next issue, and I’m eager to see how it all wraps up.
It’s taken a little bit of getting used to, remembering that when I open up Brubaker’s Captain America each month it will be a fun, “out-there” book rather than a dark political drama. Davis’s art definitely drives that fun tone home as well, although I was sorely disappointed when McNiven left as regular artist. Few have ever drawn Captain America, or any character for that matter, better than him. Despite that, I’m enjoying the story and I enjoyed the issue. Captain America #9 gets a 4 out of 5.